US EPA - Environmental Protection Agency

University of Maryland Named Winner of EPA Campus RainWorks Challenge

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PHILADELPHIA -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced the University of Maryland as a winner of its third annual Campus RainWorks Challenge, a design competition created to engage college and university students in reinventing our water infrastructure. Student teams proposed innovative green infrastructure designs to reduce stormwater pollution and develop sustainable communities.

Stormwater is one of the nation’s most widespread challenges to water quality. Large volumes of stormwater pollute our nation’s streams, rivers and lakes, posing a threat to human health and the environment and contributing to downstream flooding. Green infrastructure captures pollutants by filtering stormwater through soils and retaining stormwater on site.

EPA invited student teams to compete in two design categories — the Master Plan category, which examines how green infrastructure could be integrated into a broad area of a school’s campus, and the Demonstration Project category, which examines how green infrastructure could be integrated into a particular site on the team’s campus.

EPA awarded first prize in the Campus RainWorks Challenge’s demonstration project category to a team from the University of Maryland, College Park. The team’s design focuses on a prominent seven-acre site next to the university’s historic Memorial Chapel. The site’s stormwater challenges include excess sediment runoff and flooding.

To capture and treat stormwater from adjacent parking lots and rooftops, the team proposed to re-design the site by disconnecting existing storm pipes and directing flow into a green infrastructure treatment train designed to treat 100 percent of a one-year storm event.

The team’s design replaces traditional lawn with a meadow landscape that includes rain gardens, tiered plantings, bioretention, bioswales and rain gardens. This would provide habitat for pollinators and beneficial insect species, and serve as an outdoor classroom and contemplative landscape for visitors and the university community.

EPA created the challenge in 2012 to inspire the next generation of landscape architects, planners and engineers to develop innovative green infrastructure systems that mitigate urban stormwater impacts while supporting vibrant and sustainable communities.

The University of Maryland team was comprised of six students from the disciplines of landscape architecture and civil engineering. Their design goals were to:

  • Improve stormwater management and infrastructure
  • Increase biodiversity
  • Increase social connections on campus

The team’s submission was unique in adding high value to the campus landscape and addressing stormwater management issues in a high-priority watershed.

EPA also recognized:

  • University of Illinois at Chicago – Team awarded first prize in the master plan category.
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign – Team awarded second prize in the master plan category.
  • University of Maryland, College Park – Team awarded honorable mention in the master plan category
  • Queens College, City University of New York – Team awarded second prize in the demonstration project category
  • Georgetown University – Team awarded honorable mention in the demonstration project category.

Green infrastructure helps communities maintain healthy waters, support sustainable communities and provide multiple environmental benefits. Examples of green infrastructure practices include green roofs, permeable pavements, rain gardens, urban forests and rain-harvesting systems.

More information: http://www.epa.gov/campusrainworks.

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